This is part of the eighth section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Brazil
8/6/02 Another 10 minute border with no payments. Stamp the passport and carnet for the bike and we are in. Excellent road to Caacupe, 270 km where with increasing rain we decided to stop for the night. Rural life more subsistence with ox carts along with small farms roadside. Few cars or trucks moving despite the cheaper petrol. In fact everything seems a lower price than Brazil with lunch in an all you can eat upmarket restaurant Churrascaria for $US 2.00.
9/6/02 We left Caacupe, with its Basilica and cobbled streets. The faithful had been arriving since 7 am to this most sacred site in Paraguay. The religious trinket sellers and traditional food stalls surrounded the church waiting for the service to end. Every couple of hours throughout each Sunday worshipers move from praying to purchasing keeping the town economy moving. Asuncion was just another big sprawling city so we decided to blow away some cobwebs and ride into the Chaco. An almost featureless plain of swampy land near Asuncion with many water birds. Gradually drying as we headed further west. The palm tree savannah slowly disappeared to woody, thorny scrub. Most of Paraguay's native peoples live in this region. Landless they build temporary shelters on the wide road verge that eventually become permanent, interesting palm log homes where they run a few animals. We ended up riding 500 km to the Mennonite town of Filadelfia.
10/6/02 Mennonites moved into this region, in the middle of nowhere early last century, to avoid repression in their homelands, mainly Canada, Soviet Union or the Ukraine, to avoid military service. They built wide streets on a grid system and started agriculture, mixing with the local indigenous people. Their success here has also been their downfall as locals and foreigners move into the region bringing western ideas and now outnumbering the Mennonites. Their traditional conservative values are not moving readily to the next generation. There has been unseasonal rain for the last five days making the usually dusty roads and footpaths slushy, sticky mud. Our hotel is shared by five Texans here to shoot pigeons. They flew in from Asuncion but have to drive out as the airstrip is now a slush bog. We visited the Mennonite museum but spent most of the day avoiding mud and rain at the hotel.
11/6/02 A drier day as we started heading back to Asuncion, cutting short our trip to the area as the muddy roads make sightseeing unrewarding. The 30 degree day heading into the Chaco just two days ago replaced by 11 degrees heading back with drizzle increasing to rain. Paraguay is not set up for tourists and even local travel seems unusual with the lack of hotels. It wasn't till well after dark that we arrived wet at a small Hospedaje run by a German couple in Paraguari. German is spoken in many regions of the country because of immigrants and we have had no trouble speaking English to the few German speakers.
12/6/02 Today is a holiday celebrating the end of the Chaco War, seen as a victory here for Paraguay. And today the country stopped as the Paraguayan football team pulled off a seemingly impossible task of victory and into the second round of the World Cup. We had no choice but to join our hosts at the hotel to watch the early morning game to cheers before heading to the border town of Encarnacion. A good road, rolling hills, light drizzle and cold. People were out cheering the football victory on such a celebrated holiday.
13/6/02 "Mate" is the local drink in this region of South America. A herbal tea drink, drunk through a metal filtering straw out of a cow horn cup. A thermos of hot water is carried to replenish or reactivate the drink. Jesuits first settled this region trying to convert and educate the local indians but antagonized the government in the mid 18th century and were expelled leaving behind extensive stone ruins. We visited Trinidad Jesuit ruins just out of town and looked at the massive hydroelectric dam submerging the old town.
14/6/02 We left Paraguay with an easy border crossing and no payments. An easy country to travel but not set up for tourism.
Move with us to Argentina
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Peter and Kay Forwood,